Early Stage Analysis of Electric Vehicle Power Electronics Liquid Cooling System Designs

The desire for the automotive industry to shift to more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly technology has grown significantly in recent years. While several innovations have taken the industry to a better place of lower emissions and fossil fuel consumption through the development of hybrid electric and plug-in electric vehicles, technically the market is moving towards vehicles that could satisfy the demand for zero hydrocarbon emissions and not require an external electrical power supply for charging. This goal is currently being pursued through the use of fuel cells to generate the energy needed to get our society where it wants to go both literally and figuratively.

The idea of fuel cells is nothing new; it is simply harnessing the electricity that is generated by the chemical energy from the reaction of hydrogen ions with oxygen. The challenge is implementing this technology on a scale that can generate enough energy to move a vehicle safely and efficiently. One aspect that is of particular concern is the heat generated due to the inefficiencies involved with the process. Considering a vehicle that is powered up to 100kW with a typical conversion efficiency of 90% in the power electronics, this would require up to 10kW of heat to be handled by the cooling system so that there aren’t any issues. Traditional air cooling devices have been used in low heat dissipating electronics successfully but when faced with electronics that have high energy densities, another form of cooling is required.

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